My life as a visual artist really started when I graduated from High School. My parents gave me oil painting lessons from a local accomplished painter whose name I can’t recall. Besides teaching me to mix all my paints (including a fabulous rose color) he taught me a most valuable lesson: There comes a time when it’s done. Art is not perfect, it’s artistic.
I had drawn with charcoal and pencil since an early age (remember John Knaggy Learn to Draw?) I started painting with oils later on. However, the big “but” in my life was this: Since I came from a family of Math and Science geeks, in school I majored in Math and Science-of course! In addition, I was a passionate musician so I managed to be in band and orchestra every semester by substituting classes creatively. I helped design the half time show-Art. Marching band substituted for P.E. And one summer I designed and sewed capes for 138 band uniforms-home economics! I also was the Commissioner for Publicity and Drives ( I made all the banners and posters)-art again!
I went off to college as a science-math major. I had a fairly successful year. In Biology for majors I earned an A and found out many years later that I had the standing high grade for genetics. Physics I found easy but I did so struggle with chemistry. I took calculus but my cheerleading duties conflicted with the class time so I missed most of the classes. I was going to drop and the professor made a deal. She said that I could have one grade lower than I got on the final. Wow. What a deal. (Ah-youth!) So I went home and spent the weekend working through the text book in the company of a basketball player who had made the same deal. I got the highest grade in the class on the final-“A”! (I missed one.) Later when the professor asked what math classes I was going to take the next year, I told her that I didn’t think I had a propensity for math. (Ah, youth!)
Instead, I walked into my counselors office and changed my major from Science Math to Art. He noted that I had never taken an art class in my life. But I assured him that I had done art all my life. And besides, I was the sign printer for the school (graphic art) and actually made cash money on the side painting signs (More graphic art! I was know for little cartoons painted amid the prices- mice coming out of swiss cheese and such. )
And so I started in my course studies in Art (One of those!). Being very dyslectic, I tended to make mirror images of every thing I drew. One day while drawing en plein air, my professor forbid me ever to reverse my images again. I got so frustrated that I quit- school, that is. I continued to paint and I did sell oil paintings. But then I got sidetracked into movies, training horses, and raising kids. Year later I went to Webster University and had some of the most fabulous art teachers; Sister Gabe, who said drawing reverse images was quite a talent-though I now do have the ability to draw frontwards as well- and Linda Rockwood, who especially inspired my teaching and inspired me in my art. Linda guided me to embrace art with truth and honesty. Her teaching and guidance about art inspired me in my visual art, my music, my writing, my performing. Since then I actually have taken a masters degree course of studies in art- spread over three colleges. I even wrote my thesis; Primitive Firing Techniques-the most comprehensive inclusive text on primitive firing techniques to date . (Someday I’ll get it published. I need photographs.) However. I did not get my piece of paper because even though the classes were one in the same and the requirements the same, master level credit cost more money. Since I was teaching in the public school on a poverty salary (my kids qualified for free lunches)and providing for my family, every penny mattered. Such is life and the politics of higher education.
That being said I hope to provide photos of my art on this site some day. Right now the boxes are house in garages in two states while I live in a third. I do not have photos of most of it.
Graphic Art: I actually didn’t know I was a Graphic Artist for years. I painted signs, designed all sorts of print work (lots of business cards) and even designed company logos with the first Corel software. I used to keep copies of all the posters and print ads that I had design through the years but too many moves and leaking garages have eliminated that burden. I never thought of it as “graphic art.” It’s what I did for extra cash! I recently moved from Rural America to the City: Graphic Arts is a career!!!!!!
Paintings: Mostly I do oil and acrylic. I did a series in oil that were on wood panels two feet by four feet. My smallest series were oil miniatures that I did for my mother. I have never mastered water color though I do dabble in it. I have worked a lot in craft painting over the years-decorating boxes to chairs to chest of drawers to doors to wall and ceiling murals.
Drawing: I love working in pencil and charcoal. I can get lost in the process. Once I sat in a park and drew an iris. When I looked up, four hours had passed. I have drawings of the baby elephant that was born in the L.A. Zoo. I always travel with a sketch book. But I tend to get very anal with drawing in a way that I don’t get with other media. Once I drew a pair of fur boots and I think I drew in every strand of hair. It is very good though. Excellent work.
Weaving: One of my master level courses in college. I had to have a basket weaving course in order to get certified to teach art. I only needed something like 29 course hours; I had 43, but they were the wrong ones. I took the basket weaving class over the summer. It was hot- no air conditioning- so I spent most of my time weaving away while sitting in a bathtub of tepid water. Puts a whole twist to the saying “underwater basket weaving.” I love weaving. One of my baskets in a museum! I have woven baskets large enough to sit in, as small as a fist, and all sizes in between. I also have woven dream weavers. And I am known for my happy weavings. I started doing those while on the road as a musician. They are very eclectic, totally free formed, and thus each one is absolutely unique.
Paper Mache is one of my forte’s. I’ve even taken a course down in New Orleans where they make absolutely huge paper mache heads. I love making masks and 3-d sculptures. Paper mache is wonderful because you can make the final product look like anything. I made a sculpture of a dragon for a client and finished it in a tarnished metal. He has it on the top of a large piece of furniture and gets asked repeatedly how he managed to get that huge metal piece up there and isn’t he worried about the weight. I have had students who have made full sized alligators and one who took my design for a dragon and made it as large as a refrigerator.
Collage: I always enjoyed putting anything and everything together in an artistic way. Never really thought about it but just recently became aware that this is considered a legit art form. And here I have been doing it forever.
Jewelry making: I enjoy wearing artistic jewelry and so I enjoy making it. I wrap stones. I have made hand painted clay pieces and beads. I use metal links and twine. I have done a lot of bead work; stringing and weaving. I have never got into casting but I hope to do that some day. I have sold jewelry right off my neck, the best way! The most popular was a choker of woven hemp and shells. Actually sold quite a few. It was the perfect style to accompany a swim suit.
Sculpture... is a passion. I especially love clay. But carving and working with wood is a close second. Both are earthy. I love playing in the mud. I tend to push the extremes in my sculptures. I have some large pieces but my most popular piece were my man-dogs. At the time, I was going through a divorce and I would start every day at the studio throwing man-dogs together. I threw all my anger and hurt into those dogs and then used them as test tiles for glazes. I was working one day when a woman stormed into the studio and announced “I need a man-dog!” She went to the shelf and picked one out. When asked how much, I was clueless. After all, they were just test tiles. We settled on a $20 bill and I was in business. I had all the angry woman of the town filtering through the studio and buying man-dogs. My favorite clay piece that I’ve ever made was my monster. Nobody else wanted to put anything in the kiln when I fired that piece. I most enjoyed it because little kids who happened to be in the studio would spend all their time talking to him. I think because of all those conversations, he now has a soul. I gave the piece to my mother.
Most of my wood sculptures are small. I did a whole series of bread boards made of cherry and as mostly and based on fetishes; rabbits, owl, fish, chicken, turtles etc. I then did a series of secret compartment wall sculptures based on the same themes. (The relief sculpture slides to the side to reveal the hiding place for a key or money.) I have also made children’s toys with wheels and such. I carved a life sized dachshund dog that was stolen (is that a claim to fame?). I did a life size jointed man-size 14, once, but he was very cumbersome. I had more fun with the silhouette. It was of me, crouched and looking out at something. It was painted black and so, set in the right position, was a merely a figure in the shadows. Twice I had law enforcement officers ask me to move it because it set their adrenaline rushing. Beings a musician, I have also made a number of musical instruments. Being an artist, they are more than just an instruments.
Thank-you for reading!